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Br J Nutr. 2019 Jun;121(11):1201-1214. doi: 10.1017/S0007114519000692. Epub 2019 May 27.

A systematic review of the effects of increasing arachidonic acid intake on PUFA status, metabolism and health-related outcomes in humans.

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Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton,Southampton SO16 6YD,UK.
Department of Paediatrics, EURISTIKOS Excellence Centre for Paediatric Research, University of Granada,18016 Granada,Spain.
Unilever R&D Vlaardingen,3133 AT Vlaardingen,The Netherlands.
Nestlé Research,1000 Lausanne 26,Switzerland.
DSM,4303 Kaiseraugst,Switzerland.
BASF AS,0283 Oslo,Norway.
ILSI Europe,B-1200 Brussels,Belgium.
Department of Paediatrics,Clinical Center of the University of Pécs, Medical School,University of Pécs,7623 Pécs,Hungary.
Cochrane Hungary,Clinical Center of the University of Pécs,Medical School,University of Pécs,7622 Pécs,Hungary.
Danone Nutricia Research,3584 CT Utrecht,The Netherlands.
Department of Nutrition and Movement Sciences,NUTRIM School of Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism,Maastricht University Medical Center,6200 MD Maastricht,The Netherlands.


We conducted a systematic review of randomised controlled trials (RCT) of increased intake of arachidonic acid (ARA) on fatty acid status and health outcomes in humans. We identified twenty-two articles from fourteen RCT. Most studies were conducted in adults. These used between 80 and 2000 mg ARA per d and were of 1-12 weeks duration. Supplementation with ARA doses as low as 80 mg/d increased the content of ARA in different blood fractions. Overall there seem to be few marked benefits for adults of increasing ARA intake from the typical usual intake of 100-200 mg/d to as much as 1000 mg/d; the few studies using higher doses (1500 or 2000 mg/d) also report little benefit. However, there may be an impact of ARA on cognitive and muscle function which could be particularly relevant in the ageing population. The studies reviewed here suggest no adverse effects in adults of increased ARA intake up to at least 1000-1500 mg/d on blood lipids, platelet aggregation and blood clotting, immune function, inflammation or urinary excretion of ARA metabolites. However, in many areas there are insufficient studies to make firm conclusions, and higher intakes of ARA are deserving of further study. Based on the RCT reviewed, there are not enough data to make any recommendations for specific health effects of ARA intake.


ARA arachidonic acid; CE cholesteryl ester; DGLA dihomo-γ-linolenic acid; FA fatty acid; LA linoleic acid; LC-PUFA long-chain PUFA; PL phospholipid; RCT randomised controlled trial; Arachidonic acid; Fatty acids; Human health; Inflammation; n-6 Fatty acids


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